As researchers learn more about the Omicron variation of COVID-19, some say booster shots look more and more like a good idea to help fight the pandemic.
Sabina Vohra-Miller, founder of Unambiguous Science, a health information organization, said: “If there’s no Omicron in the picture, I think two doses would be enough for us. get boosters to protect against Delta.
“Now that Omicron is in the picture, it is important to ensure that Canadians are protected against this variant.”
The bottom line is that a bunch of new studies seem to show that the Omicron variant is better able to evade protection with two doses of the drug than previous COVID-19 variants.
On Wednesday, in the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers about the potential effectiveness of the shot against Omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said that two doses of the vaccine resulted in significantly lower levels of neutralizing antibodies. but their third dose increased neutralizing antibodies by one factor in a total of 25.
Blood obtained from people who received a third booster shot a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant as effectively as blood after two doses of the drug against the virus initially administered, the companies said. identified for the first time in China, the companies said.
Omicron COVID-19 variant may partially avoid protection from Pfizer vaccine, South Africa study suggests
Meanwhile, a preliminary study published by researchers at the African Institute for Health Research in South Africa on Tuesday also said Omicron may partially avoid protection from two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. /BioNTech and suggested a third shot could help prevent infection. The study has not been peer-reviewed.
Significant data is not yet available on how vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drugmakers fight off the new variant, but they expect to release their own data within weeks.
Canadians 18 years of age and older should be given a COVID-19 booster 6 months after the 2nd shot: NACI
Last week, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said all adults could get a booster shot of the vaccine, citing evidence that it offers protection against SARS-CoV- 2 decreases over time after two doses of the vaccine.
Does Omicron strengthen the casing for boosters?
Jason Kindrachuk, assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses at the University of Manitoba, said adding new variants to the mix strengthens the argument for boosters.
“We not only see what is normal for us in relation to the weakening of antibodies, but we also have to appreciate that the virus has changed,” he said.
“I think what you’re seeing definitely sounds like a call to arms saying we need a third dose. This is important for us to be able to deal with a potential Omicron attack and certainly to be ready if we have the ability to witness it.”
New real world data from Denmark shows that many people who have had two doses of the vaccine are becoming infected with Omicron and the country has reimposed some restrictions in response to the new outbreak of COVID-19. South African scientists have also reported a clear drop in immunity to Omicron.
Vohra-Miller notes that studies on the Pfizer vaccine contain some good news for people who get two doses. While neutralizing antibodies appear to be affected by Omicrons, that’s not the full picture of immunity, she said.
“Studies also show – and this is part of the good news – that T cells are largely unaffected, meaning that even with two doses of Pfizer we should still see protection from serious illness. . So that’s great news,” she said.
Kindrachuk says this is helpful, but it still means people can get infected and pass the virus on to others.
“That’s our concern because we’re in a period where we certainly don’t have 100 percent immunity in our population,” he said, meaning people who haven’t been vaccinated. strains or people with weakened immune systems may still be at risk of infection.
Health officials urge Manitobans to get COVID-19 booster shot after first case of Omicron variant discovered
Omar Khan, professor of biomedical engineering and immunology at the University of Toronto, said we need more information before deciding whether a third dose is really needed.
“Part of the information driving the conversation around meeting a third dose is whether our current levels of vaccination protect us against severe disease, and we still have to understand,” he said. this is a little more.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s news conference, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization, said it was “too early” to conclude that a third dose would be required to deal with the virus. Omicron variation, especially based on these small studies.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done and of course we’re only looking at one factor, just neutralizing antibodies, and we don’t really have information on effectiveness yet,” she said.
It’s also possible that we just want to update the vaccine rather than inject a booster with the same formula, says Khan. Pfizer said Wednesday that it could do this by March 2022 if needed.
Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO director of immunizations, vaccines and biologicals, said booster doses could be useful to fight pandemics, but they were not the most important factor.
“No matter which way you look at it, a main dose is always better than a booster dose for people at risk,” she said.
“The primary focus here has to be on making sure that everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated with the primary wave has access to that vaccine and gets vaccinated.”
– with files from Global News ‘Jamie Mauracher and Reuters
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